Yisrael Beiteinu: Israel Must Not Fund Artists Who Boycott Settlement Arts Center

Lieberman's party urges action against theater actors calling for boycott of new Ariel arts center; Foreign Minister says that 'the show must go on, but the incitement [against the state] must stop.'

Yisrael Beiteinu chairman, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, announced Sunday that his party has decided to act against theater personnel who are boycotting a new arts center built in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, by working to stop state funding channeled to the artists.

Lieberman and other Yisrael Beiteinu ministers will act against the boycotting artists by halting direct funding of their travel expenses for shows abroad and by preventing their appearances before state bodies.

In September, a group of theater actors and public figures signed a petition saying they would not perform in the new Ariel center as a protest of Israel's settlement policies. The protest was supported by over 150 academics.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman - Emil Salman
Emil Salman

Lieberman condemned the boycott and urged action against the theater actors. "These artists can enjoy freedom of speech but not at the expense of the taxpayers' money," said Lieberman. "Those who call Israel an apartheid state cannot also profit from it."

"The theater figures who signed on the boycott letter represent a small extreme fringe group in Israeli society, and there is no reason to fund their incitement against the state," said Lieberman.

"Everyone is allowed to criticize the government's policies, but they cannot act against it and doubt the legitimacy of it or of the Knesset, which were democratically elected, and at the same time ask for state funding."

"The show must go on, but the incitement must stop," he emphasized.

On Friday, dozens of theater figures boycotting the new Ariel cultural center sent a letter to Be'er Sheva Theater actors urging them to join their battle and boycott the newly built arts center in the West Bank settlement.

"Ariel is not just another community," the letter said, stressing that the actors were about to perform in the cultural center that was erected in Ariel on occupied land. "just several kilometers from the thriving and flourishing Ariel, Palestinians live in refugee camps, in harsh living conditions and without any basic human right. Not only are they not entitled to see performances in Ariel, some of them have no access to running water."

Likud MK Yariv Levin responded to the letter, saying that "the vast majority of the Israeli public is fed up with the lunatic fringe that has gained control of Israeli theater and cinema."